By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers
The Clovis family of a soldier slain in combat in Afghanistan has planned a local memorial service Sunday.
Full military honors including a flag presentation to the family and a 21-gun salute will be provided by the Cannon Honor Guard, according to Cannon Air Force Base officials.
Bethaney Beach, Kassin’s sister, said the service is to be a celebration of Sgt. Robert Paul Kassin’s life that their family wants to share with the community.
“Whoever has known Robert, knows our family or has known someone who died in war, or people who have been in war are welcome,” Beach said.
Kassin, 29, was killed Sunday by small-arms fire, according to a U.S. Army news release.
He died near Larzab in Afghanistan’s Zabul province, when his platoon was attacked by small-arms fire while on patrol, the Army said.
Initially Kassin’s family had planned to hold the local memorial after the funeral and burial services, but they are still waiting for the soldier’s body to be released and transported from Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Funeral and burial services will take place in Coushatta, La., late next week, according to Katrina Najera, Kassin’s other sister. His grandfather is buried there, family members said.
Military honors will again be performed in Louisiana for Kassin’s widow, Judy Kassin, who will not be present for Sunday’s memorial, Beach said.
Born Jan. 22, 1977, in Flint, Mich., Robert Paul Kassin was born into a military family. His father, Robert Joseph Kassin, was stationed in several locations, leaving England in 1990 when he was assigned to Cannon Air Force Base.
After the senior Kassin retired, the family made Clovis their home.
The younger Kassin joined the Army in 1996 and had been stationed at Fort Polk, La., before deploying to Afghanistan.
Since news of Kassin’s death became known, the phone at Robert Joseph and Lucia Kassin’s Clovis home has been ringing off the hook with calls from all over the country, Najera said.
The calls are from a myriad of people —news organizations wanting interviews and information, to old friends and veterans calling with messages to lend support.
They don’t mind, Najera said. The busy tenor is helping family members get through the days. It is when she goes home at night and the quiet sets in that she begins to miss her brother, she said.
“(Being busy) keeps our minds off the hard part — the sorrow.”
Clovis was her brother’s home in his heart, Najera said. No matter where he went he always came back to visit. Najera said sharing the sorrow of his death with the community is what she believes is right and what he would have wanted.
Her brother always made it clear he joined the Army because he wanted to defend and protect his nation, she said.
“It’s about his life and what he did. We were proud of him and he was proud of what he was doing,” Najera said.
“We’re not the only ones going through this. Everyone should hear it — everyone should see it. We wouldn’t have honored him had we not made it known what he did honoring them (the people).”